A Wild Thing

“When you come across a wild thing,

do not try to tame it into

your own concept of perfection. 

Emblaze that wild thing. 

That piece of stardust

right before your eyes.”

- JW

Good Girls Revolt cannot be Silenced

Here I sit. Hundreds of thoughts running through my head just days after brave women – victims of sexual harassment and abuse from Harvey Weinstein – came forth and stood tall and told the world they have had ENOUGH.

As a woman, I have not lived my life without countless times of sexual harassment over the years and I would be surprised if any female in this world did not experience harassment in one form or another during their lives. It is an incredibly heartbreaking reality and I am so proud of all of the women who have come forward, expressing their deep, very dark experiences – including every single woman I have seen on Twitter and Facebook posting two very powerful words.

“Me too.”

As a journalist, I very lately stumbled across Good Girls Revolt on Amazon this past summer (it premiered in Oct. of 2016). Unsurprisingly, I fell in love with every aspect of it. The characters, the plot, the era. But most importantly, the historical context of a social issue of extreme importance: sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace against females and how they stood up for what they believed in.

A trance of awe took over me as I learned the details of what these fictional-yet-real women (as Good Girls Revolt is based on the nonfiction book, The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich) went through for gender equality at Newsweek – which as is shown more and more every day now – was just the very beginning of the revolution.

When I found out this female-empowered show with now over 28,000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.8, was canceled within just five weeks of airing, I was shocked. I was recently hired as the Editor-in-Chief of the University Chronicle here at St. Cloud State University when I first heard of Good Girls Revolt and I was instantly inspired by characters in the show to help me prepare for my role as editor.

“For every man there was an inferior woman, for every writer there was a checker,” said Nora Ephron. “they were the artists and we were the drones.” – Lynn Povich, The Good Girls Revolt

Despite it taking place in the late sixties, early seventies, sometimes inspiration from past decades is the best kind. Patti Robinson’s easy-going, yet fire-filled attitude towards getting the news story that people actually want to read, to Finn’s serious-yet-witty with a sprinkle of charming managing style in the newsroom, to sweet Cindy who portrayed so many of us women at one time or another getting pushed down by someone we cared deeply for – these characters and more have honestly helped spark my direction as Editor-in-Chief at the Chronicle. I focus on helping my team get that story, being that crazy editor-perfectionist at times, yet keeping an easy-going attitude and deeply trying to work with compassion for others instead of getting too stiff and strict with responsibility. Although some will disagree with me on this perspective, I personally feel there is a balance and that it is absolutely attainable.

As of Oct. 17, Roy Price, Head of Amazon Studios, and the person who axed Good Girls Revolt for a second season after never having seen it, nor having any females present during the decision which was confirmed publicly by creator of the show, Dana Calvo – has now resigned after being suspended immediately following the allegations from the female producer, Isa Hackett, on being sexually harassed by Price in 2015.

Yes, the man who canceled a show about women fighting harassment at Newsweek in the sixties just got caught sexually harassing a woman.

Hackett said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she finally felt comfortable coming forth with this harassment after all of the women who spoke up about the Weinstein scandal.

“I feel inspired by the other women who have been far braver than I am, who have come forward,” Hackett said. “I hope we all continue to inspire each other and ultimately create change.”

Good Girls Revolt is a show that has a pressing need to come back to our screens, and I am speaking to you also, Amazon. In thousands of our eyes, this influential account of chronicled pasts should have never left. Especially with a gender equality revolution happening both then and now, with females in industries and places across the world repeatedly getting knocked down and silenced for being just a different sex than men, we need as much positive influence and realness as we can get to continue this fight. To continue the Revolution.

*This piece was originally published by University Chronicle and won the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Region 6*

Climate Action Deems Necessary for Humankind

Experts at NASA have predicted that 2016 will be yet another year of the highest temperatures on record, and climate scientists from the World Meteorological Organization confirmed on Monday, Nov. 14 the same forecast.

Many climate change supporters grew nervous for what is to come for the United States climate action after the presidential elections last Tuesday, Nov. 8. With President-elect Donald Trump in the position to take on the leadership role of the nation, the environmental protection initiatives may very well flounder.

Trump actively dismisses global warming as nothing but a hoax that was created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. He has vowed to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which currently has 192 countries and states signed into agreements to hold the increase in global temperatures below 2-degrees celsius.

Of those 192 states, China, the U.S. and India are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, totalling near 42% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

The chair of the Global Studies department and professor of Geography, Dr. Mikhail Blinnikov, noted that Earth as a whole has warmed .01 degrees celsius in the past 10 years.

“This is equivalent to moving from Minnesota to southern Missouri in climate terms,” Dr. Blinnikov said. “What you don’t hear much about though is Minnesota as one unit warmed up almost one full degree Celsius in just the last 10 years. This is primarily due to much less severe winters, but also in part to warmer and longer summers. So we are already almost in Kansas, climate-wise.” he said.

The water distribution in Minnesota is also changing - dryer areas are getting even drier, with wetter areas getting more wet.

“This was all predicted by climate models already in the 1980s,” Dr. Blinnikov said. “The biggest challenges in the next few decades will be avoidance of extreme heatwaves and coastal flooding. Miami alone needs over $100 billion in investments on that latter front, the most vulnerable place in the USA.

Rose Bennett, a St. Cloud State University alumni with a B.A. in Geography and a minor in G.I.S. (Geographic Information System) said that global warming is the largest threat we currently face as a species.

“Half of humanity lives within 60 miles or so from the coastlines,” Bennett said. “It will cost trillions of dollars to relocate people or mitigate the effects of rising sea levels. We’ll see more severe weather patterns with greater frequency. A massive drought in the plains states could wreak havoc on food prices and aquifer levels,” she said.                                                               

G.I.S. is a tool that can help advance climate action efforts in these specific instances. “From predicting coastal changes due to rising sea levels to monitoring and communicating air quality data including CO2,” Bennett said. “It’s an invaluable tool the world over.”

Bennett understands why some larger businesses would like climate change to not be true, but thinks it is incredibly shortsighted for Trump to want to pull out of the Paris Agreement.  

“Climate change denial at this point is, at least for world and national leaders, willful ignorance or actual malfeasance,” said Bennett. “Our leaders shouldn’t waffle on this issue. The U.S. needs to lead on it globally or it’s just going to get worse.”      

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, under the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the average temperature across the contiguous United States has been in a gradual rise since their records from 1895.

St. Cloud State University international student, Talha Mirza, speaks about climate changes in his home country in southwest Asia.

“The climate in Pakistan is getting dry, hot and gets less rain as compared to past years,” Mirza said. “Global warming is a big threat because the life on our planet - pretty much everything - depends on the climate.”     

“Donald Trump is an idiot if he doesn’t see that climate change is real,” said St. Cloud State University student and President of SCSU Geography Club/GTU (Gamma Theta Upsilon), Angela Mundis. “Personally, I am offended that he doesn’t care about the world that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will someday live in.”

In the recently released documentary directed by Fisher Stevens, Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio visits scientists specializing in climate change, and all of them point to the one solution to reverse global warming: renewable energy.

“Fossil fuels are amazing, they’ve done so many wonderful things, but now we just have to move on,” said Stevens. “I hope we’ll see a collective shift in how people get their energy and live their lives because that’s what it’s going to take.

We should absolutely be using more renewables,” said Mundis. “ There are so many renewable sources that will never run out! Our dollars should be spent on new technology for clean energy. I believe solar power is the most underutilized source of energy along with wind and geothermal. I believe this is one of the main issues, but not the only one to focus on for a solution,” she said.

Dr. Blinnikov is known for his short-term study abroad program in Costa Rica over winter break at St. Cloud State University, with study topics including, biodiversity conservation and sustainable ecotourism development.

He explains that Costa Rica was 100% self sufficient in electricity in the first half of 2016, due to higher than average rainfall over parts of the country, therefore helping deliver very strong hydropower reproduction from lake Arenal. There was also strong performance in geothermal, wind, and even solar energy generation.

“They (Costa Rica) still must import fuel for cars and trucks and are not 100% carbon neutral,” Dr. Blinnikov said. “They have a rather unique position, because they are a small country with no real winter, and they also are blessed with lots of geothermal and hydropower options.”

Other countries who have similar energy processes include Iceland, New Zealand and Norway. Dr. Blinnikov said the U.S. may not be able to mimic Costa Rica’s renewable energy success, but can look to them for useful lessons on how the infrastructure for renewables can be funded.

“I do think we need to invest more in renewable efforts,” said Bennett. “But I think that can only be one tent pole in a more comprehensive plan that includes nuclear energy, re-working agricultural practices to be actually sustainable, and investing in electric vehicles. Basically Elon Musk is on track to save humanity, if we help him,” she said.

Elon Musk wears many hats, but he is most well known for being the co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors. He strives to scale down global warming through sustainable energy production, while also wanting to reduce the “risk of human extinction” by making human life multi-planetary with the intention of establishing the first human colony on Mars.

During Dr. Blinnikov’s time at the University of Oregon, Eugene, receiving his M.A. in Environmental Studies and PhD in Geography, he attended a seminar of Dr. Patrick Bartlein, a leading U.S. climatologist.

“In 1995, he said that if he had only 5 minutes to testify before U.S. Congress about the top issue for the country and the world, that would be the imminence of significant climate change in the first half of the 21st century,” Dr. Blinnikov said. “He emphasized that we will see things that are unimaginable from the 20th century perspective.”

In “Before the Flood”, former NASA astronaut and current Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Acting Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA/GSFC, Piers Sellers stated, “If we stopped burning fossil fuel right now, the planet would still keep warming for a little while before cooling off again.”

“Global warming is a huge threat to the human race,” said Mundis. “If we start now, we might be able to slow down the process, but it will take every nation coming together and doing their part, and that is highly unlikely.”

The “Before the Flood” crew recommends going to CarboTax.org to see your carbon footprint and not only receive suggesstions on how to lower it, but to check the option to pay a voluntary carbon footprint tax to offset your climate impact, based on your monthly carbon use. For someone whose carbon footprint is 7.6 tonnes of climate pollution, your monthly contribution would be less than $15.00 and would go directly to forest conservation footprints in three continents.

“The single biggest impact is to stop driving alone from home to work,” Dr. Blinnikov said. “Walk, bike, or take mass transit instead. Choose where you live based primarily on that. Flying less frequently would help alot too.”

Other common ways to help combat climate change that Dr. Blinnikov mentioned are to live in a more efficient home, specifically something smaller like an apartment; eat less red meat and any meat in general; buy locally produced items in minimal packaging and save water, electricity and heat when at your residence.

“Climate change is scientifically proven to be happening,” said Mundis. “It might seem hopeless, but as an individual, we can do our part in recycling, reducing water waste, driving less, and cutting down on the energy we use. We can also elect real leaders who see the importance of this issue.”

*Jessie received First-Place in Investigative Reporting from Minnesota Newspaper Association in 2018 for this article. It was originally published at universitychron.com* 

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